MCC presidency completes full set for David Morgan
James Callaghan is the only British politician to have served in every Great Office of State. The cricketing equivalent has been completed for the first time by David Morgan as he takes up his role as president of MCC.
As ECB chairman and ICC president over the last decade Morgan has enjoyed somewhat smoother control of power than Callaghan and now, as he prepares to turn 77, brings his administration skills to the boardroom for one last role.
At least he thinks this will be his last role as he reflects on a career built of steel. Quite literally. His working life was spent in the steel industry, most of it while heavy industry in the UK suffered upheaval. "They were interesting, challenging times," Morgan says around an octagonal card table in the Members' Bar of the Lord's pavilion; a world away from the steelworks of South Wales. "I joined a privatised company, saw it nationalised, and saw it denationalised, became a shareholder and so on. But I gained the sort of the experience I needed for my career in cricket."
Mercifully, there are no striking workers to contend with at the MCC. The most dissent he is likely to face surrounds the club's plan for the development of Lord's. Morgan's steady hand will be needed to ensure the route for the Masterplan remains clear.
It should be one of the more straightforward tasks for one of the most influential voices in world cricket. Morgan played a key role in the transformation of the game in England and Wales. "We identified the importance of a successful England team to the health of the game," Morgan says of his time with the ECB. "And it's now accepted that England needs to be successful for cricket in England and Wales to thrive."
He chaired the working group that set up the ECB in 1997, served as deputy chairman to Lord MacLaurin as central contracts were introduced, before becoming chairman himself in 2002, twice re-elected. Callaghan never made it past one term.
His are the words of a true statesman: the considered, steady delivery and authoritative deep South Wales Valleys accent. Appropriate verses have been required many times; perhaps most necessarily in 2009 when Morgan, as ICC president, responded to the Lahore terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus.
"It was a harrowing morning," Morgan recalls. "I was at home in Wales, looked at my blackberry about 6.30 and saw quite a lot of activity and then the phone started ringing. I decided to come up to Lord's and Haroon Lorgat the chief executive of ICC happened to be in London. I said, look, we need to meet the media and Lord's is the place to do it. The media conference was essentially news journalists not cricket journalists.
"So many Pakistan cricketers that I've come to known over time said to me, 'David, you can be sure cricketers will never be targeted in Pakistan'. They believed it and they meant it. But it happened. And international cricket has not been played in Pakistan since. It's very sad. I'm sure one day it will return.
"It's a tribute to the resilience of Pakistan cricket that they are still able to compete on the world stage without being able to play on their home soil. And luckily, although many people were injured, people like Chris Broad and Mahela Jayawardene returned to the game. But it was a dreadful occurrence."
A second major incident followed a year later as Morgan was handing over the presidency to Sharad Pawar. The spot-fixing scandal at Lord's. "That was very sad for different reasons, there were some very talented young players involved. Since then, a lot of time and effort has gone into anti-corruption at the ICC and certainly here at the ECB. I'm hopeful they can be things of the past. Hopeful but one can never be certain."
With regards to the world game, and the power grab by the Big Three, Morgan is keeping his counsel. He held talks with all the parties involved in the changes but has declined to offer his opinion in public.
He also experienced no shortage of discord in county cricket - where his life in cricket administration began, voted "by the skin of his teeth" onto the Glamorgan board. He gained a fast-track to higher roles, having been asked to set up the club's marketing committee - they were in vogue at the time.
"I came to meetings of the TCCB marketing committee, chaired in those days by Bernie Coleman from Surrey - he was far-sighted way ahead of his time and you couldn't help but learn from him pretty rapidly." Morgan also learned the route to Buckingham Palace from Coleman - both were made an OBE for services to cricket.
Morgan first watched county cricket at Ebbw Vale - he remembers Trevor Bailey struggling with no-balls - and went on to witness, as chairman, Glamorgan's success in the 1990s. "I was so lucky," he says recounting the 1993 Sunday League triumph at Canterbury and the Championship (the third of three Morgan has lived through) in 1997.
"Immortality in the Principality" was the quote used by that group of players. But perhaps it was Morgan who helped really deliver it to Cardiff. His strong influence helped Test cricket - and Ashes cricket - find its way over the Severn Bridge.
"The way the club developed under Paul Russell was hugely impressive," Morgan says about one of his successors who oversaw the development of Sophia Gardens. "The 2009 Ashes Test set new standards for customer care, which other grounds are happy to acknowledge and follow on. Many other grounds have learnt from Cardiff and have implemented many of those things."
Morgan's most recent influence on the game in England was through his review into the county game, most of which was adopted. 2014 was the first season of the new calendar.
"My review found that we play too much cricket," Morgan says. "And I made the bold recommendation that we should drop down from 16 to 14 Championship matches. That was rejected but I still believe the 18 first-class counties play too much cricket. It's a huge strain on the players and I think the quality would be enhanced with just a little reduction in the amount of cricket played."
Morgan has very much earned his retirement after his year with the MCC ends. But with one game dealt with, might his success be tapped into by other sports? Any chance of Morgan lending a hand to the Welsh Rugby Union? "You never know. I'm available."
Alex Winter is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo He tweets here